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Thursday, November 29, 2012

Alive Unto Christ...

2 Corinthians 5:14&15- "For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again."

We must remember what a destructive and frightening man the Apostle Paul had been before Christ apprehended him on the Road to Damascus in order to really appreciate what he is saying here. We can see of his devotion to his Savior, Jesus Christ, just from reading his epistles, but previous to that, he had been zealously and aggressively persecuting the Church, consenting to the stoning of Stephen, the Church's first martyr, looking for Christians high and low to imprison for their faith- the man was certainly on a mission! He was also very educated in the scriptures, having studied under the scholar Gamaliel. He was a Pharisee. He knew the Old Covenant Law. He lived it.

Why then, did he seek to destroy the Church? Well, he believed that he was doing God's will. He was zealous for the Law of God, no doubt..... After his very dramatic conversion though, we see a man who, by the time he began ministering to the Body of Christ, was so steeped in the love of his Lord that he devoted the rest of his earthly days to Him. He had learned the enormous difference between Law and Grace. He knew from personal experience that Christ was not a philosophy, not just a great teacher, but that He was literally LIFE in a world of death, and that He offered, and continually offers that LIFE- He Himself- to those lost in sin and death, to the end that the very apex of His creation- man- would come to know Him and the forgiveness of sins, and Life Everlasting. Paul knew HIM, not just ABOUT Him.

"For to me to live IS Christ, and to die is gain (Philippians 1:21)." Now, Paul was referring to physical death here, but he was fully aware that to be alive in Christ necessarily meant that he was now dead to self. Remember, beloved- it is the grace of our God- not the Law- that allows us to die to self.

The Law could never bring about death to our selfish bent, it only made it pop its ugly head up at the worst possible times- simply because the Law could never really change a heart. The Israelites wanted to obey the Law of God, and after Moses read God's commands to them, they all said, "We will do all that you command us!" That lasted for about a minute, because the Law could not give life (remember, man lost that in the Garden of Eden), but Christ's resurrection did!

We all speak of the Cross of Christ- and rightly so, for that act of Love is what took our sins away. But let's never forget that His resurrection from the dead is what guarantees our own resurrection to eternal life! How blessed! Resurrection follows crucifixion- they go together. God made sure that nothing was left undone in our redemption. No greater news could given to fallen mankind, could it?.....

Back to our scripture, "the love of Christ constraineth us"...It may have been his devotion to the LAW of God that constrained Paul to persecute the Church prior to his own conversion, but what was the result of that- even in his own heart?
Let's look at just a quick clip of Acts 9:1 "And Saul (AKA Paul), yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord..." Do you see what's in Paul's heart here? He was dedicated to the Law of God all right, but what was the fruit of that dedication? Where is God's love in Paul at that time? Now compare that to the same man's heart after Christ becomes his Beloved Lord- "The love of Christ constraineth us..." See the difference? Same individual, but oh- such a changed man, yes? Paul's heart is now filled with a divine love for the bretheren.

This is precisely what the love of our Savior does- it constrains us ( the NIV translates the word 'controls', Beck's translation says 'compels', Amplified adds 'urges')- You can bank on it- Paul's passion for the Law never brought him to this! Paul offered that it is the LOVE of Christ which brings us to the end of the love of our own selfish way of life- for His sake, that we should not henceforth live unto ourselves, but unto Him Who died for us, and rose again! Is that not absolutely magnificent?

En Agape, Jim Ewing

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